About time someone stood up and said something. The only problem is that it was the goalie.
Don’t get me wrong, I like what Giguere did, he and The Monster have made some huge saves over the past few games, but those mean nothing if they are hung out to dry one minute later. But it is very worrying that the other members of the team, ones looked to as bigger leaders – Kessel, Kaberle, Komisarek and so on, are rather…..absent from the scene when they should be accountable for the team in both winning and losing.
Wait… Did Kessel even play last night? He should be quite rested after all this time off, I don’t think he has played in a few games. He has dressed, true, but hasn’t actually played in some time.
This is a big leadership issue for the team right now. No one is stepping up to take the team on their shoulders; no one is stepping up to change the team’s fortunes on the ice or take responsibility for it’s failings off the ice.
This is a very young team that should have a lot of energy and they need to start using it smart. Commit to the play that can be made. When you work hard for 30 seconds in the corner to skate the puck out to open ice then pass it off that is wasted energy. Not only have you cost a scoring attempt, but you most likely turned the puck over leaving tired legs on the ice, unable to defend the defensive zone.
Each player, Kessel and Grabovski come to mind, need to channel their inner Jason Blake and start taking hard shots from the slot. But for the love of god, get it through and don’t put it right at the goalie, this is not a hard thing to do.
Right now Kessel seems to enjoy skating directly at defenders, placing the puck in their skates and trying to shoot, only to be stunned when the puck wobbles to the corner. Remember when he would try to out maneuver the D-man, cut to the middle a fire a laser beam top shelf? Those were the days, but now this seems like too much work.
When they do manage to get some quality chances, they opt for the netminder’s chest, clearly expecting a shot so hard that it will pass straight through, instead of battling a little extra to get the unblocked angle.
Here are some things for the Leafs to keep in mind for the rest of the year:
1 – Goalies exist in a physical form; one cannot simply will the puck through them.
2 – Wins are the best way to ensure post-season appearances and in-city employment past February.
3 – Goals come from hard work. Hard work leads to goals. Goals lead to wins.
4 – Goals only count if they cross the goal line (See step one if obstacles impede the puck)
It is time for someone to step up and become a leader on this team, hold themselves and the team accountable. I like that Giguere, a seasoned vet who knows this game well, has decided to do this and he is 100 per cent correct, but someone else should have beat him to it.